Research within the Honors Program
Not familiar with academic or scholarly research (including such work in business and creative disciplines)?
You might want to read this overview to learn about the process. This web page also connects scholarly work in general with your situation as an LMU University Honors student in particular.
University Honors Program students have access to a wide array of grants and fellowships to support their undergraduate research work. “Research” is broadly defined and includes disciplines in the arts, sciences, humanities, education, the social sciences, and business, grounded in a study of history, theory, or practice.
The Honors Core Colloquium course Research & Exhibition is designed specifically to prepare Honors students for research in general and grant proposals in particular. Reviewing its course materials and texts will provide additional background on defining a research problem, studying the literature, and preparing a proposal.
In addition, although it pertains specifically to doctoral degrees in computer science, this article by Mor Harchol-Balter, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, also includes a highly readable and relevant treatment of scholarly research that can be enlightening to you, especially in Section 2. And, although Section 3 is ostensibly about the Ph.D. application process, much of the advice in that section is also pertinent to students who are interested in applying for research grants and scholarships.
All Honors program grants share a number of guidelines:
- Applicants must be in good standing within the Honors Program (i.e., not on probation). Students who are on probation may still apply for grants, but proposals from students in good standing will take precedence over proposals from students on probation.
- Applicants must have the guidance and endorsement of a faculty mentor. Faculty mentors are crucial to the success of any undergraduate research endeavor. They provide vision, expertise, guidance, and experience as students work through their respective projects. A written endorsement or letter of support from the faculty mentor is a part of every Honors grant or fellowship application, reflective of the role that this professor is willing to take in helping a student with his or her work.
- For most grants, applicants must provide an itemized budget. Responsible stewardship is an aspect of successful sponsored work. Most grant proposals must be accompanied by an itemized budget showing how grant funds will be spent. The justifiability of this budget is a criterion for a grant’s approval. Once approved, funds must be spent according to this budget, and written notice must be sent if changes to the budget (but not the total awarded amount) are necessary.
- If funded, applicants must report on the result of their work. Dissemination is an intrinsic part of academic research. It helps “spread the word” on what was learned and provides a form of accountability for the money received. Honors grants require that awardees commit, at a minimum, to presenting their work at LMU’s Undergraduate Research Symposium and the University Honors Program’s This is Honors event. Dissemination at other venues is also highly encouraged, and the Honors Program specifically funds such endeavors through the Honors Ambassadorial Grant for students who are presenting their work at a venue other than LMU’s Undergraduate Research Symposium, such as an external publication, conference talk, or poster session.
Exceptions and Limitations
The primary intent of all Honors grants is to support research by Honors students, and at the heart of research is inquiry: questions that need to be answered or problems that need to be solved. As such, Honors funding, like most other scholarly funding sources, does have exceptions and limitations:
- Honors cannot contribute to a pool of funds for a larger project. Implied in the intent to fund Honors student research is the requirement that Honors funding specifically and fully cover a clearly-identified endeavor—it is not meant to “contribute” to a broader pool of funds that help pay for a much more expensive project. Venues such as Kickstarter are more suited for projects of that type, and you are certainly encouraged to move in that direction if your funding need matches that model more.
- Honors cannot directly fund film production. Doing so would place the University Honors Program in the role of a producer for such a film. The University and its units are explicitly barred from taking on such a role. (Honors can fund research related to making a film; it is unable to fund the production itself.)
- Honors cannot provide startup funds for an entrepreneurial venture. Doing so would place the University Honors Program in the position of an investor. Similarly to being a film producer, such a role is disallowed for the University and its units.